Contributed by Richard Cuicchi
This is the third of a series of reviews that will take a look at family relationships in each of the thirty major league organizations.
Baseball has more family relationships than any other professional sport. They existed in the earliest days of the sport in the 1870s, and they are abundant in today’s game, perhaps more so than ever before. Baseball has been called a “generational” sport for several reasons. One of them is that multiple generations of families have been active in the game–grandfathers, fathers, sons, and brothers. And now even some great-grandsons are starting to show up on rosters. Uncles, nephews, cousins and in-laws are part of the extended family of baseball relatives, too.
Baseball bloodlines aren’t limited to just the players. Family trees with a baseball background have commonly included managers, coaches, scouts, owners, executives, front office personnel, umpires, and broadcasters, as well.
Red Sox history is filled with examples of players and non-players that had relatives in baseball. Some of the more noteworthy ones include:
Ken Brett had just turned 19 years old when he made two appearances in the 1967 World Series with the Red Sox. He went on to pitch for the Red Sox in three more seasons as part of his 14-year career that ended in 1981. Ken’s brother, George, was a Hall of Fame third baseman for the Kansas City Royals that led the American League in hitting in three different decades. Ken had two other brothers, John and Robert, who played only one season in the minors.
Roger Clemens won 192 games and three Cy Young Awards in his 13-seasons with the Red Sox. Over his 24-year career, he won a total of 354 games and is currently 3rd all-time in strikeouts. Altogether he garnered seven Cy Young Awards during his career. Roger had three sons involved in baseball. Koby played in the minors for eight seasons in the Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays organizations. His sons, Kacy and Kody, were drafted out of high school by the Astros, but both opted to attend the University of Texas where they are currently playing baseball.
Dom DiMaggio is part of one of the most famous trio of baseball brothers in history. His brother, Joe, a Hall of Famer player with the New York Yankees from 1936 to 1951, was a 13-time All-Star and winner of the American League MVP Award three times. Dom’s brother, Vince, was a two-time All-Star during his ten major-league seasons. Dom played for the Red Sox during 1940 – 1953, when he was selected to All-Star teams in seven seasons. All three brothers played in the outfield.
Dave Sisler pitched in four seasons for the Red Sox in the 1950s. He is the son of Hall of Fame player George Sisler Sr. who twice hit over .400 en route to a .340 career batting average. Dave’s brother, Dick, was a member of the 1950 Philadelphia Phillies “Whiz Kids” that won the 1950 National League pennant. The first baseman logged eight seasons with the Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds. A third Sisler brother, George Jr., played four minor-league seasons before becoming a general manager for several minor-league clubs and then president of the International League from 1966 to 1976.
Fast forwarding to more recent times, here are some highlights of baseball relatives in the Boston Red Sox organization during 2016.
Mookie Betts has emerged as one of the Red Sox’s brightest stars, finishing second in the American League MVP voting last year, only his second full season. He hit 31 HR and 113 RBI while posting a .318 batting average and 26 stolen bases. He is the nephew of Terry Shumpert, a 14-year veteran infielder who primarily played for the Kansas City Royals and Colorado Rockies. Terry had a career .252 batting average. Mookie’s cousin is Nicholas Shumpert, the 28th round pick of the Atlanta Braves in 2016. Nicholas played his first pro season at the rookie league level last season.
Xander Bogaerts is another young star that came up through the Red Sox farm system and ranks among the best shortstops in the game. In an all-star season last year, he had career-highs with 21 HR and 89 RBI while batting .294. His twin brother, Jair, played two seasons in the Dominican Summer League for the Red Sox organization in 2010 and 2011. There have been only eight sets of twins where both brothers played in the major leagues.
Craig Kimbrel came to the Red Sox last year after five seasons with the Atlanta Braves and one with the San Diego Padres. In four of his years with the Braves, he led the National League in saves. Overall, he has posted 14.5 strikeouts per nine innings and a WHIP of 0.949. Craig’s brother, Matt, was drafted by the Braves in 2012, and he spent three seasons at low levels in the Braves farm system
Drew Pomeranz joined the Red Sox staff in July last year after earning an all-star selection with the San Diego Padres during the first half of the season. He has pitched for six seasons that included stints with the Colorado Rockies and Oakland A’s. Drew’s brother, Stu, had a brief appearance in the majors with Baltimore in 2012. Their great-grandfather was Garland Buckeye, a major-league pitcher during 1918 – 1928, primarily with the Cleveland Indians. Buckeye compiled a 30-39 record. Their father, Mike, was a minor-league pitcher from 1988 to 1992, after being selected by the Minnesota Twins in the 13th round of the 1988 MLB Draft. Their uncle, Patrick, played one season in the Chicago White Sox organization in 1983.
Rick Porcello earned the American League Cy Young Award last year, in his second season with the Red Sox and eighth overall year in the majors. The 27-year-old posted a career best 22-4 record and 3.15 ERA. Rick’s grandfather was Sam Dente, a major-league infielder from 1948 to 1955. Dente posted a career .252 batting average for five teams. Rick’s brother, Jake, was a late-round draft pick of the Detroit Tigers in 2009, but did not sign.
Travis Shaw became the starting third baseman for the Red Sox in his second season with them. He hit 16 HR and 71 RBI to along with a .242 batting average. His father is Jeff Shaw, who spent 12 seasons in the big leagues as a relief pitcher and earned two all-star selections. Travis was traded by the Red Sox to the Milwaukee Brewers over the winter.
Other Red Sox major leaguers in 2016 that had relatives in pro baseball include: Deven Marrero, whose cousin Chris Marrero also plays in the Red Sox organization; Sean O’Sullivan whose brother Ryan O’Sullivan played in the independent leagues; Robbie Ross whose father Chuck Ross pitched in the Red Sox organization in the 1970s; Joe Kelly, son-in-law of former major leaguer Derek Parks; and Pablo Sandoval whose brother Michael played in the Twins and Giants organizations during 1999 – 2010.
The Red Sox pipeline of baseball relatives includes several top minor league prospects whose relatives were former major-league players: Jake Cosart, Boston’s third-round pick in 2013, is the brother of current major leaguer Jarred Cosart and grandson of Ed Donnelly, who pitched briefly for the Chicago Cubs in 1963; Teddy Stankiewicz, a second round pick of the Red Sox in 2013, is the son of former major leaguer Andy Stankiewicz, while his brother Drew was in the Philadelphia Phillies organization last year; Yomar Valentin is the son of former major leaguer Jose Valentin and nephew of former major leaguer Javier Valentin; Tate Matheny, a fourth round pick of the Red Sox in 2015, is the son of current St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny.
The 2016 Red Sox had their share of baseball relatives in the dugout, too. Manager John Farrell is the father of three sons who have been in pro baseball. Luke Farrell is currently a pitcher in the Kansas City Royals organization. Jeremy Farrell is a minor-league coach in the Chicago Cubs organization, while Shane Farrell is a scout with the Cubs. John’s father, Thomas, was also a minor-league pitcher for the Cleveland Indians in the 1950s.
Bench coach Torey Lovullo is the father of Nick Lovullo who made his pro debut in the Red Sox organization in 2016. Torey was named the new manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks over the winter. First base coach Ruben Amaro Jr. is the son of Ruben Amaro Sr., former major league infielder who primarily appeared with the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1960s. Ruben Jr.’s brother, David, played one minor-league season with the Cubs in 1984. Two of his nephews were drafted by the Phillies. Third base coach Brian Butterfield is the son of Jack Butterfield, who was an executive and scout with the New York Yankees. Assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez, Sr. is the father of Miguel and Victor who were both drafted by the Red Sox. Victor Jr. is currently a scout in the Tampa Bay Rays organization. Victor Sr.’s brother, Ahmed, played four minor-league seasons in the Cardinals organization.
In the Red Sox front office, Frank Wren is the senior vice-president of baseball operations. His son, Kyle, played at the Triple-A level in the Milwaukee Brewers organization last year. His son, Jordan, was drafted by the Red Sox in the 36th round, but did not sign. Carl Yastrzemski, one of the all-time Red Sox great players, is currently a player development consultant with the team. His grandson, Mike, played outfield at the Triple-A level in the Baltimore Orioles organization last year. Carl’s son, Mike, was also a minor-league outfielder in the mid-1980s.
Lee May Jr. is a minor-league coach in the Red Sox organization. Like Yastrzemski, he is part of a three-generation baseball family. His father, Lee May Sr., was a three-time all-star first baseman during 18 major-league seasons, primarily with the Cincinnati Reds and Baltimore Orioles. Lee Jr.’s son, Jacob, is currently an outfielder in the Chicago White Sox organization playing at the Triple-A level.
Baseball’s Relatives Website
The entire list of 2016 active major and minor league players and non-players can be retrieved at:
Contributed by Richard Cuicchi, June 17, 2016
On Father’s Day last year, I compiled a list of major-league all-stars who were fathers of major-league players. The mythical team represented a good look back in history at some dads who were among the best players in the game. There were some pretty good names on the list—Berra, Griffey, Bonds, Raines, and Rose.
To honor baseball dads this year, I’m taking a different twist on the same subject.
The all-star team I’ve compiled this time is indeed comprised of fathers who starred in the big-leagues. However, their sons, who are currently following in their dad’s baseball footsteps, are prospects still grinding their way through college and the minors.
Not that long ago, most of these sons were hanging out with their dads in major league clubhouses or shagging balls in the outfield during dad’s batting practices before games. Those early childhood experiences likely fueled their aspirations to ultimately join the ranks of “major leaguers” like their fathers.
On this Father’s Day, the tables will be turned, since these all-star dads will be pulling for their sons to pitch and hit well enough, so as to improve their chances of one day getting to the “Big Show” themselves.
Starting Pitcher – Roger Clemens won 354 career games and is 3rd on the all-time leader list in career strikeouts. He won the Cy Young Award a record seven times. Twice he struck out 20 batters in a game. He would already be in the Baseball Hall of Fame if it were not for his suspected involvement with PEDs. Three of Clemens’ sons have followed in his footsteps. (Note that all the sons’ names begin with “K” – the symbol for “strikeout.”) Kacy and Kody played for the University of Texas this year, after having been drafted by major league teams out of high school. Koby has played in the minors for the Astros and Blue Jays organizations and later in independent league baseball.
Relief Pitcher – Mariano Rivera is the all-time saves leader in baseball with 652. He pitched in seven World Series for the Yankees and recorded an astonishing 0.70 ERA and 42 saves during his post-season career that included 96 games. He is a lock to be voted into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. Mariano’s son, Mariano III, is a relief pitcher like his father. He was the 4th round pick of the Washington Nationals in 2015 and is currently pitching at the Class-A level.
Catcher – Mike Matheny played thirteen major league seasons for the Brewers, Cardinals, Blue Jays, and Giants. While he never played at an all-star level during his career, Matheny developed a keen sense for the game that has allowed him to become one of the top young managers in major league baseball today. Matheny’s son, Tate, was a fourth-round draft pick of the Boston Red Sox in 2015, and the outfielder currently plays at the Class-A level. Mike has two other sons with futures in pro baseball. Jake has committed to play for Indiana University, while Luke has committed to Oklahoma State University.
First-Base – Rafael Palmeiro is one of only five players in history to get 3,000 hits and slam 500 home runs in his career. However, his fabulous career has been stained by failing a drug test during his last season. Consequently, he won’t likely get elected to what would have otherwise been a sure spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame. However, his sons have put on the spikes to follow in dad’s footsteps. Patrick played in the Chicago White Sox organization for three seasons and is currently playing in the independent leagues. Last year, his 50-year-old father came out of retirement for one game to play with Patrick in a league game. Rafael’s other son, Preston, was drafted this year out of North Carolina State University by the Baltimore Orioles in the 7th round.
Second Base – Craig Biggio could have landed a spot on this imaginary all-star team at three different positions. He has the distinction of being a regular starter for the Houston Astros at three different positions during his career: catcher, second base, and centerfield. He attained all-star status as a catcher and second baseman. He compiled over 3,000 hits, 660 doubles, and 1,800 runs scored during a Hall of Fame career. Biggio coached his two sons in high school, and both went on to play baseball at the University of Notre Dame. Cavan was drafted this year by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 5th round. Conor was selected by his dad’s team, the Astros, in the 34th round of the 2015 draft.
Third Base – Dante Bichette was a four-time National League all-star for the Colorado Rockies and was runner-up in the MVP voting in 1995. He compiled a .299 batting average, 274 home runs, and 1,142 RBI during his 14-year career. Bichette, coached his son, Dante Jr., in the Little League World Series competition in 2005, and Dante Jr. is now playing in his sixth season in the New York Yankees organization. Bichette’s other son, Bo, was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2nd round of this year’s draft.
Shortstop – Cal Ripken Jr. is the Hall of Fame shortstop best known for his consecutive game streak of 2,632 for the Baltimore Orioles. He was a 19-time all-star and two-time American League MVP. His physical size of 6’ 4” and 200 lbs. re-defined the shortstop position in the major leagues during the 1980s. Ripken comes from a baseball family, as his father was a long-time coach and manager of the Orioles, while his brother Billy played in twelve major league seasons as an infielder. Cal’s son, Ryan, was drafted in 2012 and then again in 2014, and is now playing at the Single-A level in the Washington Nationals organization.
Outfield – Vladimir Guerrero was often noted as wild-swinging hitter, but he managed to hit 449 home runs, drive in 1,496 runs, and hit for a .318 average during his sixteen-year career. He was the American League MVP in 2004 and was an all-star selection nine times. His performance should earn him a spot in Cooperstown. Guerrero’s 17-year-old son from the Dominican Republic, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., was one of the top international free agents last year and was signed by the Toronto Blue Jays for $3.9 million. However, he has yet to play in the minor leagues in the U. S. Guerrero Sr. had a brother who also played in the major leagues, and his nephew, Gabby Guerrero, is currently a top prospect in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization.
Outfield – Carl Yastrzemski is one of the all-time great Boston Red Sox players. He’s in the Hall of Fame based on his career numbers of 452 home runs, 1,844 RBI, and .285 batting average. He was an all-star in three different decades, the Triple Crown winner in 1967, and MVP of the American League in 1967. He’s on my list of all-star dads, but in fact he is the grandfather of Mike Yastrzemski, currently playing at the Triple-A level in the Baltimore Orioles organization. Mike is a third-generation professional player, as his father, also named Mike, played five seasons of minor league baseball.
Outfield – Magglio Ordonez was a six-time all-star in the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers organizations. During his 15-year career, he managed to hit for a .309 average, slugged 294 home runs and 1,236 RBI. In 2007, he finished second in MVP voting in the American League. Ordonez’ 20-year-old son, Magglio Jr., played for Detroit’s rookie league team last season.
Manager – John Farrell is currently in his fourth year as manager of the Boston Red Sox, having claimed a World Series championship in 2013. A former major league pitcher, Farrell has three sons involved in professional baseball. Luke is currently pitching in the Kansas City Royals organization at the Triple-A level. Jeremy was drafted in 2008 and played in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization last season. Shane was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011, but chose a career as a pro scout, currently working in the Chicago Cubs organization. The three Farrell sons represent a third generation of ballplayers, as their grandfather, Tom, played briefly in the minors in the mid-1950s.
Carl Yastrzemski’s grandson Mike began his professional career last year in the Baltimore Orioles organization. He started the 2014 season in low-A and now has advanced to Double-A Bowie Baysox. So far, his combined stats include 13 home runs and 72 RBI. Mike says he has surprised himself with his progress this season.
See related story about Mike Yastrzemski at the link below from The Bristol Press:
Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski recently attended a spring training game between the Red Sox and Orioles. While his allegiances are to his former Red Sox team, he also now pulls for his grandson, Mike, who played in the game for the Orioles that day. Mike, a graduate of Vanderbilt University, was drafted by the Orioles in the 14th round of the 2013 MLB Draft and expects to start the season at the Class A level in the Orioles organization.
See related story about the Yastrzemskis at the link below from seacoastonline.com:
Mike Yastrzemski, 14th round draft choice of the Baltimore Orioles in the 2013 MLB Draft, is a third-generation ballplayer. His grandfather, Carl, is of course that famous No. 8 of the Boston Red Sox and member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Mike affectionately refers to his as “Papa Yaz.” Mike’s father, also named Mike, was a college star at Florida State and wound up playing a few seasons of minor league ball. However the father died at age 41, and young Mike developed a strong bond with Papa Yaz.
The attached article from ESPN.com portrays the relationship of young Mike Yastrzemski with his grandfather: